The temperature read 0 (zero) degrees when I saw my Yahoo weather app on Saturday morning. It was seven in the morning, and decided it would be best to just do my eight mile run on the treadmill. It would be warmer, and I wouldn’t have to worry about falling on the snow and ice on the roads. Keeping warm and looking out for my safety trumps running on six inches of snow anytime. However, my decision to run was based on more than just warmth and safety. The truth of the matter is, I’m afraid of running outside when it’s cold and there is snow on the ground. I’m afraid of the discomfort of being cold. I’m afraid of being over dressed, or under dressed. I’m afraid I’ll only go halfway of my desired distance. I’m afraid of seeing how slow I am. In other words, I was avoiding the experience based on “irrational” fears and justifying them as being “logical” by stating I wanted to be warm and safe. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not imperative to run on snow to make one a courageous runner or a runner for that matter. It is completely rational and acceptable to choose to run on a treadmill when it’s cold and snowy outside without analyzing the decision. However, for me, I knew that I was limiting myself as a runner, and I was not comfortable with that decision. I also had to accept the fact that I now live in a city where snow is a part of life, and no matter how much I wish I was living in Florida again (Florida is my home state), wishful thinking was not going to make the snow go away. Thus, I recognized I needed to go outside and not be taken hostage by the weather.
For my run, I wore arm warmers, a long sleeve technical shirt, a long sleeve hoodie, and a running jacket. Two bottoms (running tights lined with fleece and wind pants) and compression socks protected my legs. I wore a running hat and glasses to cover my head, and gloves to protect my hands. There was an attempt to wear a scarf to cover my neck and mouth, but I discovered my breathing fogged my shades, so I nixed the scarf. Of course, I lathered on sunscreen because I knew it was easy for skin to burn when there is snow on the ground.
There was a mixed emotion of excitement and fear when I started my run. Not only was this was my first time running on packed snow, it was also my first time running with attachments to the bottom of my shoes to help with traction and prevent from falling. There was very little wind, and it was really sunny when I finally stepped outside. There was a sense of calmness and peace as I was surrounded by white mountains and the sparkling glitter that bounced off the snow created by the rays of the sun. The only movement on the street was the one made by the footprints of my feet on the snow.
Much to my surprise, the time I spent outside went by so fast. The only time I slowed down was when a dog in a fenced yard came barking at me. He seemed to be limping and running on three legs, and his fur seemed like it was covered with frost. There was quite a distance between the yard where the dog was and the road I was running on. I tried to get close so that the dog could bark louder in hopes someone would look out the window. However, the house seemed empty despite the fact I saw a bicycle parked by the door that did not have an accumulation of snow like the cars parked next to it. There was also a pair of tracks made by a car, but I still did not see anyone peeking out the window. Worried that the dog might have been out all night and was perhaps limping due to frostbite, I began shouting, “Is anyone home? Your dog is limping?” I repeated the aforementioned sentences numerous times, but to no avail. I then tried calling the dog, but instead of barking, he ran further away from the fence. I did not see a dog house or any type of shelter that the dog could protect itself from the bitter cold. I was at my halfway point (four miles from home), had forgotten my phone at home, and the only mammals that could hear me were some horses across the street that were huddled together to keep warm. It must have only been a minute, but it felt like an eternity as I pondered whether I should go in and pick up the dog myself and rescue it. Different scenarios ran through my head: Some crazy armed person will come out and shoot you. The dog will bite you and you’ll both be hurt. I decided I was going to make it my mission to run back home as fast as I could muster to call the humane society and report the dog. For the next four miles, I repeated in my head the address of the home and ignored the pain at the end of my fingertips. I learned my gloves were not warm enough and I made a point to open and close my hands while trying to hide them underneath the three layers of sleeves.
There was such a feeling of triumph when I reached the last mile. I soaked in the moment of glory and quickly grabbed my phone to call the humane society. It then dawned on me that my eight mile run was not only meant for me to face my fears, but perhaps to help a fellow furry friend in need.
Are you more afraid of running in frigid temperatures or hot temperatures? Do you know how to layer for winter running?